This time of year, as leaves crunch beneath our feet and the air chills quickly at dusk, pumpkins seem to suddenly sprout from all corners.
You see them in pumpkin patches that appear seemingly out of nowhere alongside the highway.
You find pumpkins on front porches and in table centerpieces. Cardboard cutout versions decorate store shelves and school children bring home pumpkin drawings.
As October nears its end, skilled knife work transforms them into Jack o’ Lanterns, some friendly…some frightening. In fact, some of the carved creations
can get pretty amazing.
Don’t just decorate. Eat.
But mostly, they seem today to have become merely autumn eye candy, when the fact is, pumpkins are good food. Versatile and nutritious, pumpkins are packed with vitamins C, K, and E, plus minerals such as magnesium, potassium and iron. They’re high in fiber, too, and low in fat.
You can make pumpkin pie, of course, using fresh pumpkin instead of canned. But you can also roast it as you would other fall and winter squash, and add it to soups, casseroles, and other desserts. It’s wonderful mixed into ice cream or blended into smoothies.
Cooking a pumpkin.
If you want to cook fresh pumpkins, experts advise, you should choose the smaller varieties, such as the “sugar pumpkin” or Kabocha Squash.
To cook fresh pumpkin, heat the oven to 350º. Split the pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and stringy pulp. Place pumpkin halves, cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for about one hour or until very tender when pierced with a fork. Then spoon the soft pulp out of the shell and use it in recipes.
Yes, you can always used canned pumpkin, but in this era of sustainability and eating local, why not try a recipe or two using fresh pumpkin while it’s in season? Here are a few you could try. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll start a fresh new family tradition this year.